[Any] What is the purpose of a demilich?

Bira

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#11
Was Acererak meant to be unique in the original Tomb of Horrors? If he was, this might be another example of D&D's tendency to turn singular creatures into whole species.

In any case, I like the explanation that a demilich is a lich so old its body has mostly turned to dust. If this is something caused by its very essence becoming fainter, then destroying the remaining part (Acererak's skull, for example) without also destroying the philactery would make a new skull reform 1d10 days later. If it's just mundane wear and tear you could have an old lich purposefully destroying its body so that it would gain a new one, or doing something less suicidal like coating its bones in iron.
 

SetentaeBolg

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#12
To me, the last time I used a demilich in a game, it was in essence a living weapon left behind by the lich on its home plane while it roamed the negative material plane. The demilich was temporarily possessed by the lich during the battle, being inert most of the time. It was put there because the lich enjoyed eating souls and the fresher and more powerful, the better. Easier to get them from the prime by luring powerful adventurers, which is why the lich still had any interest in the prime material plane.

I also had it as a necessary step to track down the nightwalker released by the lich; using the shattered fragments of the skull, the PCs were able to locate the nightwalker and destroy it, which (in my setting) forces the lich and its phylactery out of the negative material plane and back into the prime until it can recreate its ritual. Unfortunately, the lich had warped and enhanced its phylactery which was no longer a physical object but rather anyone retaining any memory of it and its name. So now the PCs have to wipe all knowledge of it from everyone on the prime.
 

Trireme

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#13
The point of a demilich is to be cool and creepy and fight big-timer PC parties. It used to be a powerful undead wizard, now it’s a floating skull with gems for teeth. It traps the soul in those teeth if its death ray scream doesn’t get you first; you probably need heavy-duty weapons or some major high-level spells to take it on in a serious way.

Speaking in more general terms: it’s an infamous challenge from the annals of the game’s history, like the nastier types of beholder. If that doesn’t appeal to you or your players, sure, it’s pointless, but the same applies to most D&D monsters. It’s created its own meaning simply by sticking around long enough for there to be an online forum thread about it in 2019.
 

Manitou

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#14
IIRC, in one sequel to Tomb of Horrors, it turns out that the "demilich" is just another trap and not Acererak at all.
Yeah,IIRC that was the 3e version of the Dungeon, because they went and made Demiliches epic level monsters in that era, and so Acereak was literally too powerful to be run in an adventure with characters level 10-14. Which kind of illustrates the issues with making monsters needlessly overpowered.

IIRC they also included a bunch of undead from Libris Mortis in that version of the dungeon which is a nice touch, but I feel like maybe it misses the point of the dungeon ( The point being its supposed to be relatively light on combat, with more of a focus on problem solving and bypassing all the instakill traps).
In the 3.5 Tome of Magic Acererak had become a vestige you could make a Pact with. Letting him experience the world through your body in exchange for power.
 

Lewd Beholder

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#16
Garry Gygax was cheezed at his players one day, and people thought it was more than that. :p

but you'd be surprised how much more fun it is when you mix it with expedition to the barrier peaks and have liches vs robots :D
 

Runeblade

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#17
In my campaigns, lichdom has always been a false path to immortality. You are undead, and no longer subject to things like eating, breathing, and normal aging, sure. That's the seductive appeal for necromancers who need to live longer to fulfill their obsession with learning more magic.

But being a lich also condemns you to an inevitable decay of both body and mind. Sort of like magic alzheimer's where your body eventually decays away despite magical attempts to prolong it, and even your mental acuity erodes away and you become just a lost half-mad spirit, seeking souls to sustain yourself as even your precious memories and knowledge begin to slip away into oblivion. A demilich is the natural evolution of a lich, a lost soul nearly gone, but still very dangerous.
 

Evil Midnight Lurker

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#18
The whole point of the original Tomb is that it's a tournament module. The goal is not to defeat Acererak, or even acquire treasure. The goal is to be the team of players who get the farthest in before TPK or the event hits its time limit.
 

DMH

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#19
The whole point of the original Tomb is that it's a tournament module. The goal is not to defeat Acererak, or even acquire treasure. The goal is to be the team of players who get the farthest in before TPK or the event hits its time limit.
So what? That has absolutely nothing to do with my question. I specifically wrote that I don't care about the mechanics or its origins, but rather the in setting explanation of why a demilich exists at all. It is now a weak point for an entity that has almost completely shed its physical form. Why not eliminate that entirely?

As for the rest of the thread, I do find it kind of strange that Acererak could become a vestige unless he got lost in his plane hopping and is hoping to find home by giving tidbits of power in exchange for knowledge of many worlds. And the points on Necromancy as a focus and blind spot and moral decay post death, those are interesting.
 

Evil Midnight Lurker

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#20
So what? That has absolutely nothing to do with my question. I specifically wrote that I don't care about the mechanics or its origins, but rather the in setting explanation of why a demilich exists at all. It is now a weak point for an entity that has almost completely shed its physical form. Why not eliminate that entirely?

As for the rest of the thread, I do find it kind of strange that Acererak could become a vestige unless he got lost in his plane hopping and is hoping to find home by giving tidbits of power in exchange for knowledge of many worlds. And the points on Necromancy as a focus and blind spot and moral decay post death, those are interesting.
I was replying to Lewd Beholder, sorry, should have quoted.
 
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